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Advertising Industry Codes of Practice

There are various ways to advertise your product, such as in broadcast media and non-broadcast media. But, all adverts must follow the advertising industry codes of practice in United Kingdom.

The two advertising codes of practice describe and govern how businesses should advertise their products and services.

The codes cover all promotional communication. The most relevant code to follow depends on where the advert or the promotion is going to appear.

Non-broadcast Media Advertising Laws

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising has specific rules that cover sales promotion and direct marketing (e.g. email and telesales) and non-broadcasting forms of advertising (e.g. in print, online).

Businesses must adhere to all advertising codes of practice and standards for accuracy and for honesty. The CAP code also contains specific conditions that relate to:

  • Advertising to children
  • Causing offence
  • Political advertising

Broadcast Media Advertising Laws

Typical examples of broadcast media include radio and television. This kind of advertising needs to follow the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code). It covers the issues that relate to decency, product placement, and people’s taste.

The BCAP code sets specific standards on accuracy and on honesty that businesses must comply with. But, it also contains certain rules on other issues (e.g. advert scheduling).

General Broadcasting Regulations

There are other general rules to follow on decency, taste, product placement, and more. They all fall under the broadcasting codes in United Kingdom. Check the Ofcom website for further details on TV and radio broadcasting codes.

Enforcing UK Rules on Advertising

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) enforces the rules in the advertising industry. But, anyone can make a complaint to the ASA if they think the advertising rules got broken. As a rule, you should complain to ASA within three (3) months of the advert appearing.

Note: The ASA can withdraw an advert if it breaches the rules. The matter can also result in a prosecution if the advert breaks the law or the product fails to match the description.

Describing Your Product

The description of a product must be accurate when used in advertising. Thus, making a claim about your product means you must be able to prove what you are saying.

Accurate Pricing Regulations

Adverts must accurately describe the actual cost of a product. The pricing structure should include any ongoing or associated costs. In most cases, this would apply to taxation (e.g. VAT) and subscription fees.

Example of a Misleading Advert:

A customer might pay £90 for a product and is not told that the price does not include an extra amount for VAT. Because the advert did not explain this fact it would be misleading the consumer.


Advertising and Marketing Laws | The regulations are strict and prohibit all unfair commercial practices.

Direct Marketing Regulations | You must check if customers want contacting and give an option to oject.

Advertising Codes of Practice in United Kingdom